24 hours have passed, I’ve had time to let all the opinions and angles marinate in my mind, I think I’m at peace with the situation now.
Here’s what I think I’ve arrived at as the bottom line: the team made the best of a messy situation – which they created.
Here are my main takeaways:
1) Throw out any Cousins v Smith comparisons, they are completely irrelevant
Whether you think Kirk is better, Smith is better, whether it’s an upgrade or downgrade doesn’t matter one jot. The fact is Kirk was not going to sign. He was not an option. So it’s nonsensical to waste time with this comparison, because the team couldn’t sign Cousins instead of Smith.
2) With that in mind, the team needed a starting QB
They had nobody, and to their credit they acted quickly and addressed the problem without letting the whole thing drag out any further. And that’s key, because this has been dragging on far too long and become a horrible situation that was negatively affecting everybody. They paid the price of a 3rd and Kendall Fuller. I loved Fuller last season, and was very upset about letting him go at the time. I still don’t really like having to deal him, but when you zoom out and get perspective, that’s an adequate price to pay to fill the void of starting QB for the next 3-4 years. We all know all too well what it’s like wandering the QB wilderness and winning 4/5 games a season along they way – it seriously sucks. I’m not saying we’re a lock to avoid that situation, but with Smith the chances seem greatly reduced. He’s competent starter and while he probably won’t get any better, he is playing the best football of his career so far. I’ve settled on this being an acceptable price.
3) The team sent a statement they’re still committed to trying to win
What, really? Signing Alex Smith shows this? Of course it does. Years ago, this would have been the perfect storm of a situation for Snyder and the clownshow of a front office to drop a big old bomb and shake things up unnecessarily. They’d trade ridiculous resources for a flashy player to placate the fanbase, or they’d move right up in the draft to take the next great hope and mortgage the future in doing so. You know they would. By comparison, this is much more reserved and shrewd move. They’re not blowing things up and starting over, things will be very much “as you were”. Smith can operate the offense Jay runs, he has a fairly similar play style to Cousins anyway. I’m not saying he’s going to run it better, though you never know, but I’d be surprised if it turned out to be much of a drop off.
4) The team paid the going rate for this kind of QB
I’ve seen some opinions that say the contract is a ripoff – nonsense. If you want a competent QB, you pay this kind of money. End of story. The AAV will slot him inside the top 10, but within 18 months he will be WELL out of it.
5) However, despite making the best of a shit situation – it’s still a shit situation they are wholly responsible for
Most sensible fans wanted the team the sign Kirk. They had several opportunities to do so, and I will ALWAYS maintain they screwed up royally by not signing him to the $19m deal with $44m guaranteed which he reportedly asked for. That was a horrendous mistake. They botched the entire thing from start to finish, and although they’ve done a decent job of escaping from it with a QB who keeps them competitive, they still f—-d this up six ways from Sunday.
6) Now the front office are on the hook to prove they were right, or heads have to roll
I’ve said all along if the front office don’t want to sign Kirk to a long term deal, fine, that’s their prerogative – but they better be right. They better be vindicated in the end by either finding a better solution or being proven right that Kirk isn’t worth being paid. I am highly, highly sceptical either scenario will come off. I’ve been wondering what a success criteria should be now from this, and I think a Redskins playoff appearance in the next two seasons would do it. Let’s be honest, as much as some of us really wanted Kirk, we did only make the playoffs once in three years with him. Now obviously there is a LOT of nuance behind that, and he’s not all responsible. But it’s not like the team was on the cusp of something special and Kirk was in the elite league of QBs that can carry a team on their back. As I said, it’s very much “as you were”. If Kirk continues to improve and takes a step forward, leading his new team to a Lombardi trophy, then obviously things are different.
However, I do have a feeling the fate of Bruce Allen is now intrinsically linked to this whole debacle. If this backfires spectacularly, which is never out of the question with this organisation, I expect his time will be up.